Wines of Chile: Colchagua Valley



By Kori ~ December 18th, 2012.

During my recent media trip to Chile, I had the pleasure to visit a number of its wineries and vineyards and meet many of the movers and shakers in the Chilean wine industry. I am individually highlighting some of the wine regions we visited including reviews of wines I tasted from those regions. Today, I am focusing on the Colchagua Valley, located about 180 kilometers south of Santiago.

One of Chile’s best known wine regions, the Colchagua Valley has received much praise for its full-bodied red wines. Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for more than 40% of all varieties planted, but the Colchagua Valley also does well with Carmenere, Syrah, and Malbec. We tasted a number of wines from different producers whose grapes came from the Colchagua Valley. Our winery visits in the Colchagua Valley were to Viu Manent and Casa Silva.

The Viu family owns Viu Manent. Founded in 1935 by Miguel Viu-García and his two sons Agustín and Miguel Viu-Manent, the winery is now in the hands of the third generation and led by Jose Miguel Viu. In 1966, Miguel Viu Manent purchased the Hacienda San Carlos de Cunaco in Colchagua, which included 150 hectares of vineyards, a winery, and a manor house. Around 1990, Viu Manent changed its focus from bulk wine to fine wine and began exporting its wine. Viu Manent celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. The winery produces 250,000 cases annually.

Today, Viu Manent has a very modern tasting room, gift shop, winery and vineyard tours, and horseback riding school. It also has facilities for corporate meetings, weddings, and other special events. During our visit, we had the pleasure to meet managing director Jose Miguel Viu and chief winemaker Patricio Celedón. After the tour and tasting, we enjoyed a delicious lunch outside the restaurant, under the pergola, with a gorgeous view of the vineyards. It was truly a highlight of my trip to Chile.

Casa Silva is a family-owned and operated winery, now in the 5th generation. In 1892, Emile Bouchon arrived in Chile from Bordeaux, France, with the dream of planting high quality vineyards in the Colchagua Valley. His dream became a reality and the vineyards have remained in the family though some of the shares were sold through the years. In 1977, Mario Silva Cifuentes, who was married to Maria Teresa Silva Bouchon, bought back the majority of what had been sold and resurrected the family business. His son, Mario Pablo Silva, has taken it to the next level. In 1997, Mario Pablo proposed to his father that they stop their bulk sales and start bottling their own wines and selling them under their own brand. He agreed, and Casa Silva was born. Casa Silva is completely focused on the Colchagua Valley and gets 100% of their grapes from their own vineyards. Casa Silva has four main estates with the oldest vines planted in 1912. Best known for its Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon, Casa Silva produces a total of 650,000 cases per year.

Casa Silva is currently involved in a micro-terroir project, studying why there is such variability in small geographical areas. The whole estate has been mapped, and they harvest different areas at different times. They have identified 42 different field types of Carmenere. The study is being done in conjunction with the Chilean government and two universities, one in Chile and one in Germany. This is the first time that Carmenere has been studied like this anywhere in the world.

During our visit, we had the pleasure to meet managing director Mario Pablo Silva, commercial manager Arnaud Frennet, and marketing executive Francisco Espinoza Ibarra. In addition to touring the winery and tasting through their wines, we also enjoyed seeing their rodeo and polo operations. The Silva family loves horses, and both rodeo and polo are an important way of life for them. After a lovely dinner at their restaurant overlooking the polo pitch, we stayed in their quaint hotel, which has been converted from the old family home on the estate. If your travels take you to the Colchagua Valley, I highly recommend staying at Casa Silva.

Wines I tasted from the Colchagua Valley during my recent media trip:

2007 Casa Silva Microterroir De Los Lingues Carmenere (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep purple. Very aromatic with black fruit, earth, and vegetal notes on the nose. Black fruit, earth, and eucalyptus come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and soft, elegant tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long finish. Would love to have with food.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $45-50

2007 Casa Silva Altura (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 50% Carmenere, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, and 10% Petit Verdot. Deep purplish red. Very aromatic with mint, cocoa, and smoke on the nose. A beautiful wine with blackberry, black cherry, black pepper, green pepper, and cocoa on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high, silky tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $200 (not available in the U.S.)

2011 Viu Manent Gran Reserva Malbec (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep purple. Nice nose with black fruit, spice, and oak aromas. Black cherry, blackberry, and spice come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium to high smooth tannins, and good structure. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $10

2010 Casa Silva Carmenere Reserva (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 100% Carmenere. Deep purplish red. Nice nose with black fruit, smoke, and a touch of green pepper. Very spicy with black fruit and vegetal notes on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, and smooth tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $12-14

2010 Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere (Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile): 95% Carmenere and 5% Carignan. Deep purplish red. Gorgeous nose with blackberry, earth, tobacco leaf, and a touch of green pepper. Luscious palate with blackberry, tobacco, and black pepper. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and sweet tannins. Well-balanced with a long, smooth finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99

2010 Primus The Blend (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Carmenere, 23% Syrah, and 10% Merlot. Deep, dark red. Beautiful nose with black fruit and spice aromas. Black cherry, blackberry, black plum, spice, and a touch of smoked meat come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high, silky tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a very long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $18

2010 Casa Silva Carmenere Gran Terroir Los Lingues (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep purplish red. Aromatic with earth, black fruit, barnyard, and vegetal notes on the nose. Earth, black cherry, and slight vegetal notes come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19-20

2010 Viu Manent La Capilla Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Vines are about 25 years old. Deep purple. Gorgeous nose with aromas and flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry, cinnamon, pencil lead, and leather. Full-bodied with lively acidity and high, yet smooth, tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with good mouthfeel and a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $20

2009 Viña Los Vascos Le Dix Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Carmenere, and 5% Syrah. Deep, dark purplish red. Nice nose with blackcurrant, licorice, and cinnamon aromas. Blackcurrant, blackberry, licorice, black pepper, spice, and cinnamon come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and big, bold, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a long, lingering finish. Gets better the longer it’s open.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $64.99

2012 Casa Silva Sauvignon Blanc Cool Coast (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Pale greenish straw yellow. Very aromatic with citrus fruit, especially lemon, and a touch of banana on the nose. Lemon and lime as well as a hint of minerality come through on the palate. Dry and light-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a long, rich finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $22-23

2011 Casa Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Pale greenish straw yellow. Very aromatic with lemon, pineapple, and a touch of banana on the nose. More citrus notes as well as a touch of minerality come through on the palate. Dry and light to medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a long, elegant finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $25

2007 Santa Rita Pehuen Apalta Carmenere (Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile): 100% Carmenere. Deep, dark red. Aromatic with black pepper and vegetal notes on the nose. Black cherry, black pepper, and green pepper come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and high tannins. Well-balanced with a long, smooth finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $40

2010 Viu Manent El Incidente Carmenere (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep purplish red. Beautiful nose with black fruit, oak, spice, and black pepper aromas. More black fruit, spice, and a touch of green bell pepper come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, and smooth tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish. Gets better the longer it’s open.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $40-45

2011 Viu Manent Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Vines over 100 years old, just bottled last week. Deep, dark red. Very aromatic with black fruit and smoke on the nose. Blackcurrant, blackberry, black cherry, smoke, and spice come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, high, dry tannins, and a long, full finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $10

2010 Primus Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep red. Nice nose with black fruit, smoke, mocha, and floral aromas. Black cherry, smoke, and mocha come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, smooth tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $18

2010 Casa Silva Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Terroir Los Lingues (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep red. Very aromatic with mint, eucalyptus, and herbal notes on the nose. Mint, earth, herbal notes, spice, and black fruit come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity, high, dry tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19-20

2009 Santa Rita Reserva Malbec (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep red. Aromatic with black cherry, blackberry, and spice on the nose. Fruit-forward with blackberry, black cherry, spice, and black pepper on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with good structure, crisp acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $12.99

2012 Casa Silva Sauvignon Blanc Reserva (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 1/2 old vines and 1/2 coastal vineyard. Very pale, greenish straw yellow. Aromatic with floral, citrus, and lime on the nose. Lime, Meyer lemon, and a touch of grass come through on the palate. Dry and light-bodied with crisp, almost tart, acidity, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $12-14

2011 Primus Carmenere (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep red. Aromatic with black fruit, especially black plum, herbs, and spice on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium, smooth tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $18

2009 Santa Rita Medalla Real Carmenere (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep, dark purple. Lovely nose with black fruit, mint, cocoa, and green pepper. More black fruit and green pepper come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium to high, smooth tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

2010 Viu Manent San Carlos Single Vineyard Malbec (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Oldest vineyard on the property. Deep, dark purplish black. Beautiful nose with black cherry, blackberry, oak, spice, and herbal aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, smooth tannins, and a long, slightly bitter, finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $20

2008 Casa Silva Quinta Generacion Red (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Carmenere, 6% Syrah, and 3% Petit Verdot. Deep purplish red. Nice nose with smoked meat, mint, cocoa, and black fruit aromas and flavors. Full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high, sweet tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $25-30

2008 Neyen Espiritu de Apalta (Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile): 80% Carmenere and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep purplish red. Aromatic with bright, jammy red fruit on the nose. Candied red fruit, leather, and spice come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity, high, dry tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $40

2011 Santa Carolina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep purplish red. Aromatic with blackcurrant, black cherry, and a touch of leather on the nose. Leather, spice, and chocolate come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high, dry tannins, and a medium to long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $10-12

2010 Maquis Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, dark purple. Nice nose with red and black fruit, earth, oak, and pencil lead aromas and flavors. A bit thin on the mid-palate. Medium to full-bodied and lively with smooth tannins, and a medium to long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19

2010 Casa Silva Merlot Reserva (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 100% Merlot. Deep ruby red. Aromatic with black plum and smoked meat on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium, smooth tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $12-14

2012 Casa Silva Sauvignon Gris 1912 Vines (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 1912 old vines. Very pale straw yellow. Aromatic with melon, lemon, and a touch of minerality on both the nose and palate. Dry and light-bodied with good acidity, a bit of creaminess, and a medium to long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19-20

2009 Koyle Royale Carmenere (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 85% Carmenere, 8% Petit Verdot, and 7% Malbec. Deep purple. Aromatic with black fruit, dark chocolate, and pencil lead on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, high, dry tannins, and a long, slightly bitter, finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $25.99

Be sure to come back as I individually highlight more Chilean wine regions in the coming weeks.

Salud!


Filed under: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chilean Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Lesser Known Varietals, Malbec, Merlot, Red Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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